Mourning dove season opens September 1 and is the much-anticipated beginning of the fall hunting seasons for many West Virginians, according to Curtis I. Taylor, Chief of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Section. The 2009 season will again be split into three segments: Sept. 1 through Oct. 10; Oct. 26 through Nov. 11; and Dec. 21 through Jan. 2. Shooting hours are from noon to sunset on Sept. 1 and one-half hour before sunrise until sunset for all other days. The daily bag limit is 15 with a possession limit of 30.
“Mourning dove seasons are set to maximize hunting opportunity in relation to other hunting seasons,” Taylor said. “The bulk of the season falls in September when few other hunting seasons are open, and the second and third segments target late crop harvests and the Christmas/New Year holiday period, respectively.
“Doves are found throughout the state, but the greatest concentrations will be associated with farming areas,” Taylor stated. “A recently-harvested grain field with water nearby is almost sure to be a hotspot for dove hunting.”
Hunters should be contacting landowners now for permission to hunt on private land. Scouting areas immediately prior to when you plan to hunt is very important.
Federal regulations require all licensed dove hunters (including lifetime and senior citizens) to register with the Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP) and carry proof of registration while hunting. HIP registration is free and available from DNR offices and all hunting license outlets. Hunters may not hunt migratory birds with a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells unless the shotgun is “plugged” with a one-piece filler that cannot be removed without disassembling the gun.
Several hundred doves are banded with leg bands each year in West Virginia for monitoring and research purposes. If you harvest a banded bird, you can report it by calling 1-800-327-2263 or online at www.reportband.gov. Hunters may keep the band and will receive a certificate of appreciation that includes the banding information for the bird.
More information on mourning dove season can be found in the 2009-2010 West Virginia Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations which should be available from DNR offices, license agents and the DNR Web site www.wvdnr.gov in late August.
Wildlife Resources Section